At the emergency room at Preston Memorial Hospital, nurses are wheeling 47-year-old John Shaffer to an imaging room. He’s been having chest pains and trouble breathing.
“I went to my family doctor first and they did an EKG and then I came here,” he said. The distance between his doctor’s office and the hospital is about ten miles. The next closest hospital is close to an hour away – a distance not unheard of in rural Appalachia.
Recent research shows almost a third of Appalachia’s rural hospitals are vulnerable to closure, though.